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Paris is investing €250 million to become a 100% ‘cycling city’

People ride bikes on the deserted Place de la Concorde, during the curfew, aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 disease, in Paris, on March 30, 2021.
People ride bikes on the deserted Place de la Concorde, during the curfew, aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 disease, in Paris, on March 30, 2021.   -   Copyright  Ludovic MARIN / AFP
By Rosie Frost

Paris wants to become one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe with plans to turn itself into a “cycling city” by 2026.

The French capital is investing €250 million into significant upgrades to cycling infrastructure and maintenance within the next four years. Thousands of new bicycle stands and an increased number of protected cycleways will be introduced as part of ‘Plan Velo: Act 2’.

As of this year, Paris already has more than 1,000km of safe cycle paths including around 52km of “coronapistes” that were temporarily introduced during the pandemic. It now plans to make these permanent and add another 130km of safe paths to encourage people to cycle in the city.

The aim is to make it possible to cycle safely from one end of Paris to the other.

Paris officials are hoping to make it easier to get across the city on a bike by introducing routes that cross the city and go out into the surrounding suburbs. Places where cyclists are put in danger by crossing busy roads and key entry points into the city centre will also be made more secure.

JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP
A family rides bikes as pedestrians walk on The Champs Elysees in the French capital Paris, on September 22, 2019, during the fifth edition of "day without cars".JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP

The aim is to make it possible to cycle safely from one end of Paris to the other.

The city also reported that in 2020, bicycle thefts increased by seven per cent and around 80 per cent of people who don’t want to cycle say fear of their bike being stolen is their number one reason.

To encourage more people to embrace pedal power, Paris is more than tripling its secure cycle parking by adding 100,000 new spots including 1,000 spaces for cargo bikes.

Starting a cycling ‘revolution’

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected for a second term in June last year after introducing a number of pro-cycling and pedestrian-friendly measures to the city. Paris has already spent €150 million on an initial bike plan that was praised as the start of a “revolution” for the city.

“This cycling plan is one of the essential pillars of ecological and social transformation that we are leading in Paris,” tweeted David Belliard, deputy mayor in charge of urban transformation.

Every year since 2015, the city holds a “car-free day” where most of the traffic is removed from its busy centre. Thoroughfares including the Champs-Élysées avenue are instead filled with walkers and cyclists. The annual event is intended to curb vehicle use and pollution in Paris.

Hidalgo, a member of France’s socialist party, is currently a presidential candidate and these green policies are central to her campaign.